How to Celebrate the Fatima Centennial

By Donal Anthony Foley –

This is a big year for Fatima, the centenary of Our Lady’s apparitions. A century is a long time, and it might seem as though society has gone downhill to such an extent that, even if people do start to pay more attention to Fatima today, the battle is too far gone to be won.

But that would be the wrong attitude to take, since in reality the war, however long it takes, has already been won. When Our Lady said at Fatima, “In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph … and a period of peace will be granted to the world,” she meant it!

Consider how it must have seemed to Catholics in Portugal as their country began a long descent into near anarchy in the early years of the 20th century, following the assassination of the king in 1908. This was followed by a revolution in 1910, which brought to power a group of Freemasons and anarchists who were absolutely determined to stamp out Catholicism in the country within two generations. Many priests and religious were driven abroad, clerical dress was forbidden, monasteries were closed, and marriage declared to be merely a civil contract.

In Fatima in 1917, there was no shortage of priests, but its inhabitants certainly were living in an anti-religious atmosphere; this became very apparent when the local mayor kidnapped the three seers in August. Later on, the little Capelinha was blown up by Freemasons, and harassment was continual for many years. The miracle of the sun on October 13, 1917 seems to have changed things. This was such a colossal miracle that even the anti-religious authorities couldn’t deny that it happened, and from this point on they were on the defensive.

As the message of Fatima penetrated the countryside, the people regained their confidence and by means of prayer and penance—often involving long pilgrimages to the growing shrine and the praying of the rosary—gradually the Catholic culture in Portugal was rebuilt.

Fatima was approved by the local bishop in 1930, and from that point on the Portuguese bishops were more involved at the shrine, including a number of consecrations of the country to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. These were credited with keeping it out of both the Spanish Civil War and World War II. On May 13, 1942, the 25th anniversary of the first apparition at Fatima, the cardinal patriarch of Portugal, Cardinal Cerejeira, used the word “miracle” to describe the profound transformation that had taken place in the country.

And it wasn’t just in Portugal—in Austria, after a nearly decade-long rosary campaign after World War II, Russian forces eventually left the country voluntarily, which wasn’t the case for Hungary and Czechoslovakia. Regarding Russia, after the collegial consecration made by Pope St. John Paul II in 1984, we witnessed the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe.

The rosary and Marian devotion remain just as powerful as ever. What happened in Portugal in the 20s and 30s can also happen in our modern world, providing people take the Fatima message seriously and do what Our Lady asked—it’s really that simple.

Here are six things we can do to start to transform our embattled societies and bring them the healing of Christ and His Mother.

1. Devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary

One of the first things Our Lady spoke of during her June 1917 apparition was of God’s desire to establish devotion to her Immaculate Heart throughout the world, with the promise of salvation to whoever embraced this devotion. That is a very big promise, and we ought to be doing much more to make people aware of it. In practice, what this means is that we should all consecrate ourselves to Mary’s Immaculate Heart, and do our best to live out this consecration in our daily lives.

2. Pray the Rosary

During every one of her six Fatima apparitions Our Lady specifically asked for the rosary to be said, with the promise that this practice would bring peace to the world. This aspect of her message could not have been more emphatic. She also said that only she could help us, indicating her crucial role as mediatrix of all graces, and even called herself the Lady of the Rosary, to further emphasize how important it is.

3. Practice the First Saturdays devotion

Our Lady asked for the First Saturdays devotion of reparation, which she revealed to Sister Lucia in December 1929. This devotion is very important on an individual level, but also more widely as a means of bringing about the eventual conversion of Russia, since Our Lady explicitly linked those two points in her July 13, 1917 message to the children. Even if you have completed five consecutive First Saturdays, continue the practice monthly for the conversion of sinners and reparation for sin.

4. Make sacrifices and sanctify your daily duty

When Our Lord spoke to Sister Lucia in the 1940s He emphasized the importance of people doing their daily duty, and not necessarily big penances. As St. Thèresé of Lisieux showed, these sacrifices can be small everyday things. Of course, doing our daily duty can quite often involve a good deal of self-sacrifice—adapting ourselves to other people’s moods, putting up with illnesses, and so on. Since these things are “sent” by God, they are the best type of mortifications. If we are called by grace to do more, we can certainly ponder the words of the Angel to the children in the summer of 1916: “Make of everything you can a sacrifice, and offer it to God as an act of reparation for the sins by which He is offended, and in supplication for the conversion of sinners. You will thus draw down peace upon your country.”

5. Promote the Miracle of the Sun

We don’t have the power to repeat the miracle of the sun for our modern skeptical world, but we can promote it and point out that it was the greatest miracle since the Resurrection, and that it simply cannot be explained away.

6. Obtain the Fatima Centennial plenary indulgence

Pope Francis has granted a special Fatima centenary plenary indulgence, under the usual conditions, from November 27, 2016 to November 26, 2017, for those who go on pilgrimage to the Sanctuary of Fatima, or visit an image of Our Lady of Fatima that is being publicly venerated on the 13th of each month from May to October 2017. Those who cannot travel can fulfill the conditions in front of a small image of Our Lady of Fatima.

The important thing during this Fatima centennial year is to realize that we are all engaged in a huge spiritual battle, but it is battle that has in many respects already been won – we just have to keep fighting and eventually victory will come!

Donal Anthony Foley is the author of a number of books on Marian Apparitions, including Marian Apparitions, the Bible, and the Modern World, and maintains a related web site at He has also written two time-travel/adventure books for young people – details can be found at:


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  1. The booklet “Fatima at 100, Fatima Today” by Mary Doyle is also a great way to reflect:

  2. Great job David

  3. That was so beautiful thank you!

  4. I Love the 3 children and try to pray to them often. I am glad they are going to beautify sister Lucia. she was faithful to Our dear Lord and Our Lady. Pray to her.

  5. Beautiful story! Thank you for sharing it. God bless you.

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